How to know your level of intimacy

Saturday January 18 2020

Newly-married couples call each other honey, sweetheart or hubby to express their deep affection for each other. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

Hezron, a long-time client of the Sexology Clinic, was in the clinic late last December seeking help to make his wife talk again.

“She has gone mum on me, totally nil by mouth for one month now,” Hezron lamented. “My house is very uncomfortable to live in and I need urgent help before I break down.”

Hezron and his wife, Joan, were both in their late thirties and had been married for seven years. They had two children.

They were both engineers and met at university pursuing the course. Hezron now runs a private construction company while Joan is a civil servant.

The couple have been in the clinic a couple of times to learn how to make their sex lives more satisfying.

“I always assumed you are very good at communicating with each other; going mum for a month is rather unusual,” I remarked.


His gaze was fixed in the horizon. He was in deep thought, or possibly in deep reflection. He was a disturbed man.

“She got offended because I called her granny,” Hezron explained in a monotone. “I needed to pass a point but I did not know it would lead to non-ending conflict.”


Incidentally, the couple had been having trouble in the bedroom in the three months prior to the incident.

Joan did not have the urge for sex and pushed Hezron off many times. Hezron got annoyed. He had this misguided belief that women stop having sex when they reach a certain age.

“It is something I heard from my grandma but I am not sure how true it is,” he explained.

He told Joan about this myth at a certain point when they were in talking terms.

Joan was therefore very much aware of the message he was trying to pass when he called her granny. From that point on she wouldn’t talk to him.

But trivial as it may seem, the name your sex partner or spouse uses on you carries a lot of meaning.

Newly-married couples call each other honey, sweetheart, hubby to express their deep affection for each other; they are emotionally connected; they deeply care for each other and would like to make each other happy, and so they wrap all these feelings into a name which they use for each other.


The moment the relationship hits the rocks however, things totally change. The sweet names are abandoned.

At the very best they may call each other by their first names or even by their sir names.

At this stage the message is that “you are no longer that special to me”! As such you do not deserve a special name from your spouse and so the name they use is one that everybody else uses to call you.

As things get worse, your partner starts to use names that hurt you. You may have heard women calling their husbands “mlevi” or drunkard; some men call their wives “mwanamke wa kelele” or a noisemaker.

Other women referred to their husband as ‘kimtu’; while men will refer to their wife as ‘that woman’ or even ‘shetani’.

“Ok doctor, I hear you. But why would my wife refuse to have sex with me?” Hezron asked.

Well, the point is, when you decide to abandon the sweet names and use nasty ones in referring to someone you once loved it is time to seek intimacy counselling.


The names you call or refer to your spouse is the single most predictor of the health of your relationship. There is so much in a name.

“And so you are supporting Joan in refusing to talk to me? Are you for real?” Hezron asked rather frustrated by my explanation.

He stood up and said he needed a break. He walked away. Two days later he was back. Joan was still not talking to him.

I called Joan and pleaded with her to join us in the clinic. She did after three hours. It was clear they were both angry and frustrated.

They talked and sometimes shouted at each other. Initial counselling was to make them talk to each other again.

We then embarked on resolving the root cause of the problem – Joan’s loss of libido.

Loss of libido is a difficult sexual problem that affects many women but one that has also been extensively researched with clear treatment options.

It took a number of days of therapy to make Joan overcome the problem and get back on her marital bed.